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April 01, 1999 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-04-01

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'┬░iOB - Mtict g r jityWe nd, tc. Ma OIr. '!Thu 4~ prIA 0 19


te M ich g I y Weekeidi

Federation Records
-drives Detroit hip-hop

. Weekend, etc. Column

By Juquai WiWlam
Daily Arts Wrner
It was a long time coming, but the city
of Detroit is finally getting recognized as
a hip-hop hotspot. Interscope artist
Eminem was the first of a trio of major
acts to represent "tha D" worldwide. Next
to come is Tribe Called Quest-affiliate
Slum Village, and Eminem's bad half
wRoyce da 5'9 recently signed a deal with
Tommy Boy records. It can be argued,4
though, that none oftheir successes would
have been possible had it not been for the
underground foundation laid by many of
Detroit's hip-hop trailblazers like Esham,
AWOL, and Awesome Dre. One of the
founders and still one of the leaders of the
Detroit revolution is regional label
Federation Records.
Started by a four-man partnership,
Federation seeks to develop, distribute,
and promote the best underground hip-
hop that Detroit has to offer. Their roster
includes underground legends Infinite,
'Bizarre, Da Ruckus and many of their
artists, like Binary Star and SUN, have
done shows at the University. Astute lis-
Frustrated and
with the University?
Need help making
sense of your
U of M experience?
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teners may also hear guest vocals and pro-
duction by some of Federation's more
well-known affiliates, like Eminem and
Slum Village's superproducer Jay Dee.
"Eminem and Bizarre are both mem-
bers of the New Jersey-based Outsidaz
gmup," said Federation President Mark
Kempf of their relationship to the Dr. Dre
Proteg6. 'And they are also part of The
Dirty Dozen, which is an all-star team of
Detroit rappers. Eminem and Bizarre
grew up together, and have been backing
each other at shows. He appears on one of
Bizarres songs, and he also appears on a
song with Da Ruckus, who he also hangs
out with" Kempf notes that he used to
manage Eminem, and that Jay Dee pro-
duced one of Bizarre's songs.
With distribution at about 120 different
stores in the Midwest, as well as stores in
New York, Los Angeles, Japan, Germany
and various Internet music sources,
Federation plans to introduce Detroit hip-
hop to the world. But Kempf still feels
Detroit's hip-hop scene needs to become
more mature to be taken more seriously
by the rest of the hip-hop community.
1 think everybody could benefit from
cooperation," he said. "Everybody in hip-
hop sees each other as competition, (and
they need to) get over it. Everything
Federation has done is to inspire unity
between artists, stores and DJs." Kempf
feels that for Detroit to compete with the
major hip-hop markets, local talent needs
to show more respect for each other, stop
measuring themselves by their peers, and
set higher standards for themselves.
Kempf also addressed a hip-hop identi-
ty crisis that plagues the Midwest and
Detroit hip-hop specifically. "Artists have

courtesy of Federation Records
Paradne, a new face In Detroit rap.
been followers of other music," he
explained. "Detroit rap has been East
Coast-styled lyrics over West Coast-styled
music. Where's the energy directed to, and
who are you aiming your music at?"
Kempf said he believes the recent wave
of major Detroit rappers indicates a
change for the better. "People are doing
original stuff now," he said. "The radio
DJs and program directors used to show
disinterest towards Detroit hip-hop, but
now Detroit is gaining more recognition."
The future looks bright for Federation
Records. Not wanting to rest on the suc-
cess of Bizarre's debut (their most recent
release), Federation plans to release a
debut album by Paradime - whom
Kempf describes as a "drunken bully on
the microphone" - that features Detroit
star Kid Rock. Federation wants to even-
tually expand their distribution past the
Midwest, and possibly negotiate a distrib-
ution deal with a larger label. Ultimately
Federation wants to be totally self-sup-
ported, giving much-needed exposure to
rap acts from the whole Midwest, while
keeping its focus on spotlighting Detroit
hip-hop. Thanks in no small part to their
efforts, Detroit is poised to take its place
next to Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta
and Chicago as a legitimate area for hip-
hop - and it's not a moment too soon.

Once upon a time, in a land very
much like our own called Asu, there
lived a pair of Extremes. These
Extremes were brothers, though
they wouldn't like to admit it; for
you see, these Extremes didn't like
each other much.
Indeed, each disliked the other so
much that they were hard pressed to
discover a single issue upon which
they could wholly agree: When one
remarked that it was a nice sunny
day, the other might frown and say
that the sun was destroying the
crops and open-
ing the door to
famine. Such
was the enmity c
and determined
contrariness of
these two broth-
The brothers,
whose names
were Dexter and ANDREWV
Sinister, lived MORTENSEN
together in a
large house at the (L N
top of a large \ )
treeless hill.
From this house they governed the
surrounding countryside, inventing
laws and punishments such as they
deemed fit for their subjects. But
the process of forming laws was
never an easy one for the Extremes:
because they were positively unable
to agree wholly on a single issue,
neither was ever satisfied with the
administrative work of the other;
and in order finally to put a law into
effect, they had to resort to the
ancient tradition of the Vote, a con-
fusing but solemn occasion devel-
oped to resolve such disagreements.
When it became clear, as it always
did, that the conflicting legislative

viewpoints of the brothers would
not be resolved without the Vote,
the Extremes went out among their
constituents and drafted from the
populace adherents to their cause.
Once each Extreme had gathered to
their respective causes 50 people,
the two parties would march grave-
ly to the Voting Booth, the deepest
and steepest section of the long nar-
row Polling Valley that cut through
the midlands of Asu. Once the two
parties had reached the valley, they
would take up positions on opposite
slopes, and, at the direction of their
leaders, would rush down the hill
towards the other, with a terrific
crack smashing their heads together
at the base of the valley, most of
them dying instantly from massive
brain trauma. Whichever Extreme's
party had the most living members
-remaining after the Vote Wvon the
legislative argument and was
allowed to make his opinion law.
And so things proceeded in Asu.
The populace suffered tremendous
losses during particularly legislative
seasons, in which the contending
Extremes demanded repeated Votes;
but always their numbers swelled
again in the following seasons to
replace those they had lost to the
great and inscrutable Vote. Such
was existence under the rule of the
One day, as the sun from his
heavenly throne cast gently warm-
ing rays on all the fertile land of
Asu, and the Extreme brothers were
grappling bitterly with one another
in the dust of the hill on which their
house stood, a runner approached
the Extreme residence shouting at
the top of his lungs. Well, now, this
unwholesome display was entirely
deplored by both Sinister and
See MORTENSEN, Page 118

Continued from Page 6B
underground musical culture in Athens,
even assembling their own venues, such
as Tyrone's and The 40 Watt Club.
It was a little band called R.E.M., how-
ever, that really put Athens on the map.
Characterized by a quirky blend of punk
attitude and jangly Byrdsian rock stylings,
R.E.M. sprang from Athens and went
national with their first two albums,
1982's "Chronic Town" and 1983's
"Mum'ur." The remainder of the decade
saw R.E.M. accumulating a steady growth
of public appeal and critical acclaim, cual-
minating in their 1989 ascent into super-
stardom with the album "Green."
The rest, as the proverbial they say, is
history. R.E.M. went on to become one of
the most popular and widely-respected
rock bands in the world and have contin-
ued, over recent years, to release challeng-
ing and original new work.
All this and they still live in Athens.
What is it about this small Southern town
that stimulated such a creative explosion
and why do its residents, even the more
famous of them, continue to stay there
instead of moving on to the more cultural
horizons of New York and Los Angeles?
Is there really something in the water," or
is there another explanation?
Current residents of Athens list every-
thing from cheap rent to inertia as being
the primary motivation for the number of
artists who continue to live there. Bertis
Downs, legal manager to and close frend
of R.E.M., provided some insight: "(It is)
inertia. I don't think it's magic. It's just
hard to think of a place to move to, so you
might as well stay here."
Downs also lent some expertise toward
the understanding of the psychology

behind the early Athensr
"There was definitely a sort
culture ... There's this establish
to it. (It is) a Southern redn
town, but just below the sur
got this art school, party, mus
ing sort of scene. It was a tnu
ethic. You weren't trying to v
deal or get into the gossip pag
there were no gossip pages. B
willing to experiment, to have
all be different from one anotht
In conjunction with Downs
tary is the following excerpt f
Out of Bounds", a book pennc
Brown that documents the AM
of the mid-'70s and early '8t
was like a rock opera version
the flies' meets 'Gilligan's IsI
21-vear-olds can't believe that
longer 12. They are all stra
desert island, but their checks
still come in the mail."
Perhaps it is this sense of di
and isolation that lies at the
Athens' musical roots. It w
between collegiate freedom
town monotony that exploded
ly because there was nothing
kids to do than to hammelr o
their basements and garages.
there were a fiw more video ga
and movie theaters in Athens
thing never would have happet
Whatever the case, the At
continues to churn out talented
the Hostess factory does Tvir
scene is never stagniant," comr
Wall, owner of the legenda
record store in downtown /
always regenerates and is alwa
ing. Right now it is as excitin
been (since the late'70s and ea
John Fernandez, a member

Over the years, the 40 Watt club has been the primary showcase for local
Athens music. Although it has changed locations 5 times since its 1981
Incarnation, It is now bigger and better than ever before.



Daily #1 Tanning Salon
Voted by The MiciganW Daily Readership Poll

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